CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) – Chicago great and WVON-am disc jockey Pervis Spann, who helped bring black radio to the forefront, died Monday at 89 at his South Side Chicago home from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Spann’s melodious voice over the radio helped countless fans, workers, and college students get through late nights by turning on their radio. The native of Itta Bena, Mississippi, “went very quickly from being a sharecropper to a shareholder,” said his daughter Melody Spann Cooper, chair and chief executive officer of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, which owns WVON.
His career behind the radio soundboard lasted more than 60 years. He was hired at WVON by the co-founder of Chess Records (Leonard Chess), who bought the station in 1963, according to a family friend.
Spann has also been credited for jump-starting the careers of BB King, the Jackson 5, and Aretha Franklin. Per the Chicago Sun-Times, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson said Spann was the one who gave Aretha Franklin the “Queen of Soul” nickname.
Melody Spann Cooper said of her father: “He wanted us to be educated. He felt there was no ceiling to what we could become or what we could be. He was a workaholic. He never drank. He never smoked. He was such a good father that any guy who I ever dated, if he was not up to par, I just couldn’t be with him,” she said. “He used to teach us, ‘There’s no big me’s and little you’s. You want to treat the prisoner like the president.’ ”
Spann is survived by his wife of 67 years Lovie, his son Darrell, who was his caretaker, and daughters Melody Spann Cooper, Latrice Levitt and Chanté Spann. Funeral arrangements are pending.